Health diplomacy: a new approach to the Muslim world?
Suleman M., Ali R., Kerr DJ.
Three years ago, the Lancet's frontispiece stated "Health is now the most important foreign policy issue of our time" and last year, the Director-General of WHO, Margaret Chan, in her opening address, to the Executive Board at its 132nd Session said "health diplomacy works". The nascent field of health diplomacy provides a political framework which aims to deliver the dual goals of improved health in target populations and enhanced governmental relations between collaborating countries. Any government that offered tangible health improvement as a component of aid to a nation with whom they wished to develop stronger diplomatic links would have an advantage in developing a deeper relationship with its citizens.Here we suggest several different mechanisms through which such links could be developed or enhanced, including: provision of relevant health solutions, applied research, cultural alignment and the development of collaborative networks. The Islamic tradition promotes the practice of medicine as a service to humanity. Physical and spiritual wellbeing are intimately related in popular Muslim consciousness. Thoughtful Health Diplomacy therefore has the potential to bridge the perceived divides between Western and predominantly Muslim nations.